Mechanical Fuel Reduction Costs

Mitigating wildfire risk is a land management priority across the U.S. Reducing fuel loads through mechanical treatments can control understory and midstory vegetation and prevent fuel ladders that can spread fire from ground vegetation up into the canopy crown. A book chapter by USDA Forest Service scientists Dana Mitchell and Mathew Smidt summarizes costs, benefits,…  More 

Hurricane Preparation and Recovery Guides for Land Managers

Climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of hurricanes. Southern forest, farm, and ranch landowners need to better prepare and plan for hurricane impacts. The USDA Southeast Climate Hub surveyed hurricane preparedness and recovery resources and identified a need for centralized guidance that is complete and consistent. The Hub teamed up with university extension…  More 

Silviculture for Open Forests

Grassy oak savannas and sunny pine woodlands were once a common sight across the eastern U.S. These open forests have fewer large trees in the overstory and a bounty of native grasses and flowering plants in the understory. Frequent fire limited tree regrowth and created the open canopy. USDA Forest Service scientist Don Bragg and…  More 

How Do Weather, Insects, and Diseases Impact Forests? It Depends

Forests of the southern U.S. are among the most productive and intensively managed in the world. Disturbances naturally alter forest stands, sometimes creating conditions that benefit plant or animal communities, but can cause major economic losses to landowners. What’s more, the impacts from one disturbance may invite other disturbances – dead and damaged trees can…  More 

Top Ten of 2020

As 2020 comes to an end, it is a good time to gather our most-read CompassLive stories from the past year. Each one highlights the work of USDA Forest Service scientists at the Southern Research Station. We hope you enjoy reading this collection, which includes the most popular of 2020 plus a few more that…  More 

New Science Synthesis on Soils and Soil Management

We don’t often think about what’s underneath our feet, but soils are essential for the food we eat, building materials for our homes, the clean water we drink, storing carbon and mitigating climate change, even the air we breathe. Our health and well-being depend on healthy soils. It may be time to take a closer…  More 

Dead Wood, Insects, and Fire

Dead wood is a secret harbor of biodiversity. About one-third of all insect species are saproxylic – or dependent upon dead wood – at some stage in their life cycle. The effects of common forest management practices on this important resource and the insects that use it are understudied, especially in subtropical climates. USDA Forest…  More 

Site Prep Tractors and Their Potential for Prescribed Fire

Site preparation (site prep) tractors are large-wheeled machines with mulcher head attachments. These machines can turn shrubs and small trees into wood chips and chunks. They are often used to control vegetation before a prescribed fire, improve wildlife habitat, or as a replacement for fire where the risk is too high. If site prep tractors…  More 

Scientists Share Knowledge on Sustaining Oak at Symposium

For the first time since 2002, scientists and land managers met to share knowledge on sustaining and conserving oak forests in the eastern U.S. The oak symposium was held October 2017 in Knoxville, Tennessee and hosted by The University of Tennessee Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries. The meeting featured 33 invited speakers, an audience…  More 

Hill Demonstration Forest Joins Experimental Forest Network

The USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station and the North Carolina State University College of Natural Resources recently signed an agreement adding NC State’s Hill Demonstration Forest to the SRS Experimental Forest Network. The Hill Demonstration Forest covers more than 2,600 acres in the Carolina Slate Belt and has a variety of forest types and…  More